CHAPTER 11 - Of a Royal Ball (Part II)

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I didn't want to be a witness to whatever was about to happen next. I looked around me, there was no place to hide in that dim passage. It was too late to make a run for the library as well. I thanked my stars as it suddenly dawned on to me to duck under the table, that was holding the wine glasses and dishes of dessert.

I waited with bated breath. But nothing happened, the footsteps had retreated back. I sat crouched for a while longer and then got out impatiently. It could have been just a domestic help who might have dropped something. I slapped the back of my head; the Winter Realm had made my brain crave drama a little too much.

But I realized that there wasn't complete silence in the passage. I moved a little closer to the staircase feeling bold, and then a faint raspy voice fell on my ears.

"That fool, he thinks he can make a huge display of his connections and get the entire Four Realms to be present to this ridiculous party."

There was no response from the other person. I moved swiftly to one side of the thickly-built railing of the staircase and ducked again. I knew I should just have gone away from the scene and none would be the wiser. But clearly, I had no intention of doing that. Someone was clearly speaking about Prince Nova.

"For now, stay on your guard," the man with the rough voice continued, "And keep updating me. You know where to find me."

My heart jumped loudly in my chest as I heard him walking down the steps.

I put a fist over my mouth and tried to stay as still as I possibly could. I cursed myself inwardly for being such an idiot. What was I even thinking? And who was this man who was conspiring against Prince Nova so blatantly?

The man got off the last step and took a turn to where the ballroom was. If he had moved his head even a little, he would have spotted me in all my bright puffy outfit. But he had his eyes on the table of dishes and walked right past me, he picked up a huge piece of pie and simply walked off.

I sat there motionless, not believing my luck. My heart's hammering, ringing in my ears. The dim light of the passage had made it impossible for me to see his face. Well, I thanked those lights regardless, since they had done a great job of hiding me from the man as well.

The only thing that I had managed to note despite my fear and the wondrous absence of light, was the silhouette of a crown atop his head.

***

"I leave you alone for one moment, Eleni, and you just explore everything on your own," Serena was fuming. Well, I deserved that.

"I just thought it was Jorah... and well,"

"Eleni, this is what I told you. Be careful. Don't go galloping like this and give yourself away," she sighed.

I rolled my eyes, out of habit, "Serena you can relax, you are not my babysitter."

Too late, I realized it too late. Extremely wrong choice of words.

"Oh, well," she closed her eyes, "I think I kind of am. That's exactly what I am, actually, now that you mention it," and pushed her half-finished plate of meatballs signaling she was done.

"I am sorry," I pleaded. The word losing its meaning somehow.

Serena wiped her hands clean on a serviette and looked at me with intense eyes before speaking, "Seems like you don't need me to baby you for now, so I'll be on the dance floor."

She flipped her hair and walked away haughtily. I knew I deserved it. Turning around in the chair I spotted her moving closer to a handsome man. He didn't seem like a royal but a noble nevertheless. I watched her pick up a wine glass and accidentally bumping into the man. She must have batted her eyelashes at him, for he bowed slightly and extended his hand. Of course, Serena could easily nab a dance partner with zero efforts, I mentally applauded her skills.

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